Many of our workplace occupations include some form of heavy lifting, or standing on your feet day after day, both of which can place substantial strain on your back. Let’s face it, even those of us who spend eight hours a day in front of a computer are subject to back pain and injury. Whether your resulting pain is a dull ache which never seems to subside, or a sharp stabbing pain which make it difficult or impossible to manage your day-to-day activities, back pain is one of the most pervasive forms of workplace injury.
Statistics on Back Pain and Injury in the Workplace
Back injuries are believed to be the second most-cited reason for taking time off from work, following claims of a cold or flu. It is estimated that a whopping 80 percent of adults will experience a work-related back injury during their lifetime, a statistic that has caused OSHA to release guidelines for preventing such injuries by incorporating ergonomics. About a fourth of all occupational injuries which cause the employee to take time away from work are related to back pain or injury, with healthcare workers being almost five times more likely to suffer from overexertion injuries than any other type of worker. In fact, six of the top ten professions who are at the highest risk for suffering an injury to the back are some type of healthcare worker. Nurses, who are required to manually move patients show the highest incidence of back strains and injuries.
How Does Back Pain or Injury Occur in the Workplace?
Aside from nurses who must lift and move patients, what are the primary ways back pain and injury occurs in the workplace? Of course the most obvious factor involving back injuries in the workplace encompass lifting or moving heavy objects. Generally speaking, at least for employees of smaller companies, when something needs to be lifted or moved at our workplace, there is little choice but to do it ourselves. The problem lies in the fact that most of us are not well-educated on the proper way to lift heavy objects or to move such things as large boxes or furniture. One wrong turn while lifting or moving can strain the muscles in your back, leading to minor or more serious injury.
Repetition is another “biggie” in workplace back injuries or chronic pain. Often our workspace is not set up in the most ergonomic manner, therefore we find ourselves over-reaching, or chronically stretching our range of motion. Awkward body postures which are chronic are also a cause of back strain and pain. Your mother was correct when she told you to “stand up straight,” as slouching not only exaggerates the curve of your back, but also leads to muscle strain or more serious injury. Finally, we are a nation packed full of high stress levels. This stress can lead to muscle tension which in turn can worsen already present back pain.
Tips for Reducing the Incidence of Back Pain or Injury
Because repetition, stress, poor posture and heavy lifting or moving are present in many of our jobs, the key to avoiding back pain and injury may lie in prevention measures. Make sure your work environment closely follows all OSHA guidelines for safety. Your workplace should consistently be free of trip hazards, and there should be no slippery floors to contend with. If you are required to do a fair amount of walking, invest in supportive shoes which can minimize the strain on your feet, knees, hips, and, of course, your back. Never lift or move an item which is too heavy, and use your common sense in this determination. Lift with your knees, taking care to maintain the natural curve of your back.
Minimize Workplace Stress
To minimize the workplace stress on your back, stay physically active and maintain a healthy weight. Participating in strength-training exercises at least twice per week can make you much less susceptible to a serious back injury. Consider ergonomics if you spend all day in front of a computer. Sometimes you can rearrange frequently used office items in a way that will prevent repetitive motions and awkward positions. Check your posture frequently, reminding yourself to sit up straight, and if you stand for long periods of time, try resting one foot on a short stool or box. A really good office chair can be crucial for those who must sit all day. Try taking a short break in which you walk around the building for at least five minutes each hour of the day.
If you find that, despite your best efforts, you have suffered a serious injury at your place of work, find a personal injury or worker’s comp attorney who is well-versed in these type of injuries in order to protect your rights, both present and future.
Workers Compensation Claims: 1-800-734-3771, 913-681-5566, or 816-966-0099
By state law, employees are entitled to replacement of wages and payment of medical expenses directly relating to a qualifying injury. We have a solid record of securing rightful benefits for all types of work-related injury, including workplace or vehicle accidents, lifting injuries, repetitive work injury, and stress-related disability.
Because we practice in both states, we can advise Kansas residents who live or were hired in Missouri, and vice versa, on the best jurisdiction to file a claim. For instance, Kansas pays lower weekly benefits for total temporary disability than Missouri, but unlike Kansas, repetitive based carpal tunnel syndrome claims are not viable in Missouri at this time.
Contact Mike Lawless today to discuss your workers’ compensation initial claim or denial with an experienced lawyer. We offer a free initial consultation, with evening and weekend appointments available.